Computer Security and Privacy

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1 Computer Security and Privacy

2 5-2 Protecting Your Computer Lesson Contents Protecting Your Computer Guidelines for Protecting Your Computer Best Practices for Securing Online and Network Transactions Measures for Securing and Instant Messaging Measures for Protecting Your Computer Quiz - Complete all questions and print a copy for Mrs. Muruga 2

3 Topic: Protecting Your Computer Lesson Introduction You need to provide your identification to access your bank locker or your safe deposit box. This identification is to ensure that no one else is able to access your items. Similarly, you can implement various security measures to minimize the threat to your computer and the data on it. This lesson introduces you to some common best practices that will help you protect your operating system, software, and data on your computer. Lesson Objectives After completing this lesson, you will be able to: Identify guidelines for protecting your computer. Identify best practices for securing online and network transactions. Identify measures for securing and instant messaging transactions. 3

4 Topic: Guidelines for Protecting Your Computer Imagine that you have saved a confidential project report on your computer. You have been working for weeks to prepare this report and now you want to share the project report with your supervisor. You have a single copy of this report on your computer, and it is important to secure the report from being tampered with or deleted. However, another employee uses your computer in your absence and deletes the project report from your computer. To avoid such situations, you can take measures to secure the data on your computer. The following table explains the actions that you can take to safeguard the operating environment and data on your computer. Action Description Graphic Implement user identification. Set username and password. An effective way to minimize the risk to your operating environment and data is to keep unauthorized individuals from accessing your computer. One way to achieve this is by setting up accounts for authorized users of the computer, on the basis of which each user gets an appropriate level of access. For example, in Windows 7, you can set up user accounts for each member of your family or other users. You can decide to give yourself more privileges, or in the case of a child s account, you can restrict the account s capabilities. You can also increase security and limit unauthorized access to your computer by setting up a username and password. In most offices, each employee has a unique username and password. The employees must provide the correct username and password to access their computers. You can set up users and passwords in Windows 7. 4

5 Keep password secure. Your password acts like a key to your computer. Anyone who knows your password can access your computer and tamper with data. You must keep your password secure. Be careful while typing your password to prevent anyone else from seeing it. Do not share your password with others. Do not write the password and leave it on your computer or desk. If you think that the password has been compromised, change it immediately, before anyone else is able to misuse it. Lock computer. When you leave your computer on and unattended, someone can tamper with your computer software or data. You can prevent this by temporarily locking your computer while you are away. When a computer is locked, it immediately hides the content of the screen and does not allow any operation until the computer is unlocked with the correct username and password combination. The exact steps to lock your computer depend on the operating system you are using. For example, in Windows 7, you can lock your computer by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL, and then clicking Lock this computer. Note that the use of CTRL+ALT+DEL for locking the computers is not available in all operating systems. Install and update protective software. You need to always guard your computer against threats such as viruses and spyware. At times, the damage due to a virus is considerable, and you may lose important data or need to reinstall the operating system and other software. You can protect your computer from viruses and spyware by installing antivirus and antispyware software. These protective software programs help you detect and remove viruses and spyware present in your computer. 5

6 They also prevent new ones from infecting your computer. It is good practice to install a firewall, which filters out the content that reaches your computer. Installing a firewall also protects against hackers by restricting access by other online users. As newer threats keep appearing, software companies regularly create updates that you can install on your computer. These updates make additions to the installed software or operating system in your computer to make it less vulnerable to security threats. Ensure that you regularly update the antivirus software so that it can detect the newest viruses. Windows 7 includes Windows Firewall to protect your computer against unauthorized access. In addition, Windows Defender is a built-in antispyware program that protects against pop-ups and other security threats. Encrypt data. Converting your data to an unreadable form to protect it from unauthorized access is called encryption. An authorized user can reconvert the encrypted data into a readable and usable form. This is called decryption. Various software products today include a way to encrypt data. BitLocker Drive Encryption in Windows 7 Ultimate helps protect sensitive data from being accessed by unauthorized users who come into possession of lost or stolen computers. In Windows 7, encryption is transparent to the user who encrypts the file. That is, you do not have to manually decrypt the encrypted file before you can use it. You can open and change the file as you usually do. 6

7 Back up data. You can also help protect your files from loss or damage by making copies of important files and storing them on a different storage media, such as CDs, DVDs, USB flash drives, or floppy disks. This process is known as backing up data. You should keep the backups in secure locations so that you can use the backup data in case the original data is damaged or deleted. 7

8 Topic: Best Practices for Securing Online and Network Transactions The Internet introduces you to a world of information and entertainment. However, it also leaves your computer vulnerable to many online threats. For example, it becomes easier for viruses to transfer from an infected computer to your computer. You can reduce the risks to your computer from these online threats by using a combination of best practices such as creating strong passwords, encrypting data, and using antivirus software. The following table explains the various actions that you can take to secure online and network transactions. Action Description Graphic Use strong passwords. A strong password is a complex password, which cannot be guessed easily. The password should consist of a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters such as ampersand and number sign, and should not contain complete words or names. A strong password is your primary defense against security and privacy threats. Strong passwords must be created for: Local access to standalone computers. Access to networks. Access to Web sites that have sensitive information, such as personal or financial details. Access to any valuable data. Personal data stored on your computer. Protect your computer against hacking and spyware. While you are browsing the Internet, it is possible that a software program installed on your computer is transmitting your personal information to a hacker in another country. Such software programs are examples of spyware. These programs are generally installed on your computer without your knowledge and secretly transfers confidential data from your computer to the hackers. Sometimes, employers deliberately install spyware on the computers 8

9 used by the employees to track the computing activities of the employees. Windows 7 includes a built-in antispyware program called Windows Defender, which helps prevent spyware from getting secretly installed on the computer. You also need to make use of the online security support that is provided by your Internet service provider (ISP). The support can be in the form of antivirus and antispyware software. Some ISPs even provide firewall protection, virus screening, and spam protection. Clear browsing history periodically. The Web sites and Web pages that you visit while browsing the Internet are saved in your browser s History. Also, while you browse the Internet, a number of files are stored in the temporary memory of your computer. This temporary memory is known as cache memory. The files stored in the cache memory record information about the Web pages you visit. However, some of these temporary Internet files may contain your personal information, such as your username and password, which can be accessed by hackers. To prevent hackers from accessing your personal information, regularly delete the contents in the browser history and cache memory. While visiting a Web site, you may notice that it displays your name. This is made possible through the use of cookies. Cookies are small files that are created on your computer by previously visited Web sites to identify and track your preferences. Their purpose is to provide a more personal experience while visiting a Web site. However, cookies can also be a threat to computer privacy because they contain your personal information. For example, the cookies might contain your credit card details that 9

10 you have used while shopping online. For these reasons, it is good practice to periodically delete cookies to prevent your personal information from being misused. Avoid sharing personal information. Some Web sites require you to fill out forms containing personal information such as your name, gender, and age. In case of e- commerce sites, you might even need to share your bank account details or credit card number. But, remember that hackers can access and misuse this information. Some companies may also use this information to send you unwanted commercial messages. Therefore, before you share any personal information on a Web site, ensure that it is a secured Web site and there is a specific need to provide the information. Perform online transactions only on secure sites. While shopping online, you usually need to provide sensitive information such as your bank account number or credit card details. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you perform online transactions only on secure Web sites. A Web site is secure if its name has the prefix https. The prefix indicates that the Web site implements the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. SSL is an Internet security protocol that ensures secure data communication by encrypting the information transmitted. The SSL protocol certifies that the Web site is genuine and ensures that the data you provide to the site is not misused. When you enter a secure Web site, most of the Web browsers display a message to confirm that you have entered a secure Web site. The locked padlock icon that appears in the Address bar helps you identify a secure Web site. You can also check the security certificate of a 10

11 Web site before performing any online transaction on that site. Configure security components using Windows Action Center. Windows Action Center is a feature in Windows 7 that provides you a convenient utility to check the status of essential security and maintenance settings on your computer. You can open Action Center from Control Panel. The security settings has four components: Firewall. In Windows 7, Windows Firewall is automatically activated. The firewall helps prevent malicious content, such as viruses and worms, from entering your computer. Automatic updating. This feature checks for relevant security-related updates available on the Microsoft Update Web site. Enabling this feature ensures that your computer remains updated and protected against the newest security threats on the Internet. Malware protection. Spyware and other potentially unwanted software can install itself on your computer without appropriately obtaining your consent. Windows Defender provides real-time protection against such software while you are connected to the Internet. Other security settings. Other security settings include Internet settings and User Account Control settings. Internet security settings monitors the settings within the Internet browser. Internet Explorer 9 has higher security levels than its previous versions. Download Manager uses Microsoft s SmartScreen Filter to scan files for malware and issues warnings if any malicious code is detected. 11

12 Similarly, User Account Control prevents unauthorized changes to your computer by asking for the password before making changes. Disable active content. Active content refers to small programs that are installed on your computer while you are browsing the Internet. Their basic function is to provide you with an interactive Internet experience through videos and toolbars. However, in some cases, these programs can be used to damage the data stored on your computer or install malicious software without your consent. By using your browser settings, you can disable active content to prevent the installation of such programs. 12

13 Topic: Measures for Securing and Instant Messaging and Instant Messaging (IM) are widely used for business and personal communication. However, hackers, online predators, and the people who create worms and viruses use and IM for malicious purposes. For example, these people can send attachments containing harmful software. These people can also use to solicit sensitive information or to lure you into fake offers. It is, therefore, important for you to take certain measures to ensure and IM security. To ensure security, avoid opening with attachments, do not respond to junk mail, do not respond to unsolicited commercial mail, and protect yourself from phishing. To ensure IM security, chat with known people only and do not open attachments received over IM. The following table explains the actions to ensure and IM security. Action Description Be cautious when opening messages with attachments. Transcript You can send e- mail attachments to share files with your friends. You might receive a photograph or a music file as an attachment in an e- mail message. However, you need to be cautious while opening any mail containing an attachment because it is the most common pathway for the spread of viruses. Do not respond to unsolicited commercial mail. Transcript You may receive a number of unwanted messages from unknown senders including individuals and companies that are advertising their products or services. These messages may also be in the form 13

14 of online surveys that require you to fill up personal information. These unsolicited messages are known as junk mail or spam. Junk mail can often include content that is harmful for your computer. In addition, junk mail is often used for stealing identities, and you might accidentally share sensitive information while responding to such messages. Therefore, you should avoid replying to junk mail. You should also delete junk mail whenever you receive it. programs, such as Windows Live Mail, include a junk mail folder to which the junk mail may be directed and later deleted. Protect yourself from phishing. Transcript Phishing is a common activity used to extract personal information from computer users and then use the information for malicious purposes. For example, someone sends messages to you, pretending to be from a bank or any 14

15 other trustworthy organization, and asks for sensitive information, such as credit card number or password. This information is either sold further or used to cause financial loss to you. Therefore, you must verify the authenticity of such messages before responding with any personal information. Such messages are used by various phishing Web sites on the Internet to collect your personal information. Internet Explorer 9 includes the SmartScreen Filter feature that runs in the background while you browse the Internet and helps detect phishing Web sites. Limit chat activity to people whom you know. Transcript You should limit your chat activity only to the people whom you know. Developing communication with new and unknown individuals makes you more vulnerable to threats such as online predators and scams. 15

16 Avoid opening instant messenger attachments. Transcript Instant messaging is a common pathway for malicious attachments. You must avoid opening any attachments that you receive in an instant message, unless you are absolutely sure about its origin. An instant messaging attachment might contain a virus or spyware, which can harm your computer. 16

17 Topic: Measures for Protecting Your Computer Sort the items into their associated categories by writing the item number in its corresponding option box below. Category Items 1 Protect against hacking and spyware. 2 Clear browsing history periodically. 3 Disable active content. 4 Avoid sharing personal information. 5 Keep password secure. 6 Back up data. 7 Implement user identification. 8 Install and update protective software. Category 1 Category 2 Avoid Online Threats Protect Computer Data 17

18 Topic: Self Test For each question, indicate the correct answer by placing a mark in the column to the left. Question 1 One of the most effective ways to protect the software and data in your computer is to restrict the use of your computer to a defined set of individuals. Which method can you use for this purpose? Select the correct answer. Update operating system. Set up user accounts. Install antivirus software. Question 2 You can create various types of files on your computer while using the Internet. Although some of these files may be a source of security threat, they are actually beneficial of the user. Which is an example of such a file? Select the correct answer. Cookie. Virus. Worm. Question 3 Which method will you use to secure your and IM transactions? Select the correct answer. Delete messages from unknown senders without opening them. Open attachments received in instant messages. Reply with personal information to an message if the sender is a bank employee. 18

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